How and When to Clean Your Makeup Brushes to Avoid Breakouts

Cleaning your makeup brushes can be a bug-out—literally..

Minka M.
ByMinka M.

The application of makeup is often considered a form of artistry. Just like painters, makeup artists and enthusiasts use tools such as brushes to bring their creative vision to life. Unlike painters, however, makeup folks are less likely to clean brushes, transforming masterpieces into something less poetic—breakouts. Our makeup brushes absorb everything from powder and cream formulas to dirt and oils that form into bacteria and fungi which sit on our bristles for weeks. The outcome? Uneven makeup, clogged pores, skin irritation, pink eye, and most disturbingly, bugs—Stevie Miller’s 2015 video showing her bug-infested makeup brush is all the proof you need.


There’s no one who understands the importance of cleaning makeup brushes quite like celebrity makeup artist Min Min Ma. Min Min’s client list includes familiar names like comedy’s favorite gal, Tina Fey, and HBO Max's spunky drama series The Flight Attendant’s Zosia Mamet. In this interview, the expert is sharing why it’s important to clean makeup brushes and how and when we should do it.


Minka: Why is it important to clean makeup brushes?

Min Min: Keeping your brushes and tools clean is a must for your makeup routine not only for hygiene purposes but also for performance. For example, you can't use a lip brush with red lip color on it and try to do a nude color the next day.


Minka: How often should we clean our makeup brushes, does it vary depending on the brush type?

Min Min: Brushes you use for face/cheek powder should be washed once a week. Any brushes used for cream or liquid products (like foundation and concealer) should be washed daily. Anything that touches the eyes and lips should also be washed daily. Synthetic brushes are easier to clean and maintain. 


MInka: What should we use to clean makeup brushes?

Min Min: Warm water and a gentle shampoo work well. Rinse under running water and let the brushes air dry. Another fast and easy way is by spraying the used brushes with jane iredale’s Botanical Brush Cleaner a few times and swipe them against a clean paper towel a few times. This is great if you’re traveling or on the go as it’s portable. Since the spray dries off very quickly, it’s especially great if you need to reuse some of the brushes right after cleaning.





How often do you clean your makeup brushes? What do you use? Fill us in with a comment below!